(ROCOR) - From June 24-30, 2014, a regular session of the Council of Bishops of the Russian Orthodox Church Outside of Russia convened in San Francisco, scheduled to coincide with the 20 th anniversary celebrations of the canonization of St John of Shanghai and San Francisco (Maximovich, +1966), the great archpastor, man of prayer and miracle-worker of the Russian diaspora.
The Council, presided over by His Eminence Metropolitan Hilarion of Eastern America and New York, First Hierarch of ROCOR, included: His Eminence Archbishop Mark of Berlin and Germany, Vice President of the Synod; His Eminence Archbishop Kyrill of San Francisco and Western America, Secretary; His Eminence Archbishop Gabriel of Montreal and Canada; His Eminence Archbishop Michael of Geneva and Western Europe; His Grace Bishop John of Caracas and South America; His Grace Bishop Peter of Cleveland, Administrator of the Diocese of Chicago and Mid-America; His Grace Bishop Theodosius of Seattle, Vicar of the Western American Diocese, and His Grace Bishop George of Mayfield, Vicar of the Eastern American Diocese. His Eminence Archbishop Alypy of Chicago and Mid-America and His Grace Bishop Agapit of Stuttgart, Vicar of the German Diocese, could not attend due to ill health.
The Council convened in the library of Archbishop Anthony (Medvedev, +2000) of blessed memory, housed in the former residence of St John, and now serving as the headquarters of the Western American Diocese.
The Council of Bishops heard reports by the ruling bishops of the various dioceses, a report by Archbishop Mark on the Russian Ecclesiastical Mission in Jerusalem, and Archbishop Gabriel on the Synod's financial situation.
The Council confirmed the Synod of Bishops’ decision to receive His Grace Bishop Nikolai (Soraich), former Bishop of Alaska of the Orthodox Church in America, as a retired bishop. Deliberating on the request to receive His Eminence Metropolitan Jonah, former Primate of the OCA, the Council expressed the willingness to receive him as a retired bishop on condition that he receive a canonical release. Should future requests for the reception of bishops from other Local Orthodox Churches be received, the President of the Synod of Bishops will first request the opinions of all the members of the Council of Bishops of ROCOR, and then send a corresponding request to His Holiness the Patriarch of Moscow and All Russia for blessing.
By request of Metropolitan Hilarion, the Council of Bishops expanded the membership of the Scholarly Committee of the Synod of Bishops, which will now include Archimandrite Irinei (Steenberg), Protopriest Alexander Lebedeff, Protopriest Andrew Philipps, Protopriest David Moser, Hieromonk German (Ciuba) and Priest James Baglien.
The Council of Bishops confirmed the defrocking of former Bishop Varnava (Prokofiev) and a group of clergymen which had departed into schism.
On Wednesday, June 25, the Council of Bishops selected the regular members of the Synod of Bishops, which will include the President, Metropolitan Hilarion; Archbishop Mark; Vice President; Archbishop Kyrill, Secretary; Archbishop Gabriel; Bishop Peter, and Archimandrite Nicholas, who was elected Bishop of Manhattan, Vice Secretary.
On Sunday, June 29, the members of the Council of Bishops headed by Metropolitan Hilarion, as well as His Eminence Archbishop Justinian of Naro-Fominsk, Administrator of the Patriarchal Parishes in the USA; His Grace Bishop Iona of Obukhovsk, President of the Synodal Youth Committee of the Ukrainian Orthodox Church (Moscow Patriarchate); and His Grace Bishop Panteleimon of Orekhovo-Zuevsk, President of the Synodal Department of Charity and Social Service of the Russian Orthodox Church, performed the episcopal consecration of Archimandrite Nicholas (Olhovsky) as Bishop of Manhattan, Vicar of the Eastern American Diocese. The next day, His Grace Bishop Nicholas participated in an expanded session of the Synod of Bishops.
The Synod of Bishops recognized the many years of service of Protopresbyter Valery Lukianov, Mitred Protopriest George Larin and Mitred Protopriest Nicholas Tkacheff, as well as Protodeacon Nicolas and Nadezhda Mokhoff. Other clergymen and laypersons also received ecclesiastical awards.
The members of the Council of Bishops then joined in the work of the 13th All-Diaspora Russian Orthodox Youth Conference, scheduled to conclude on July 4.